According to researchers, our children are more dependent and needy than any previous generation of Americans. They are developing attitudes of entitlement and expectation, rather than habits of self-reliance and independence. As they grow, too many young people want the privileges of adulthood — freedom and resources to make their own decisions — but not the responsibility that goes with it.
Why is this? One theory is that kids no longer are required to do household chores. By living as the privileged class in their own homes, kids today grow to expect that things will be done for them, and that they are entitled to be coddled and indulged.
Giving our kids an “ideal” childhood
Some parents look back on their own childhoods believing that they had it rough, and decide they want an easier life for their children than they themselves experienced. Their attitude about chores for kids is, “I don’t want my child to have to work as hard as I did.”
Other parents believe chores are good for kids, but don’t have enough authority in the home to get their children to cooperate. Getting kids to do chores becomes one more battle that they’d prefer not to wage, and besides, who wants sloppily folded laundry? Easier and faster to simply do it themselves.
Still others have their kids so over-programmed in activities, sports, lessons, and enrichment programs that there’s literally no time to rake leaves or empty the dishwasher. Adding to the packed schedule that parents themselves create would be unreasonable.
Unfortunately, while these are all good reasons for not requiring kids to do regular chores, they’re poor excuses. And they’re robbing children of one of the most important avenues of becoming independent.
Among the benefits of chores, experts say they teach children to work cooperatively in a family system, which translates into being better employees. They also teach kids to care for themselves, solve problems, manage their time, take responsibility, and they promote positive self esteem (think, “I did it all by myself!”)
We’ve come a long way from our agrarian roots, when families had lots of children precisely so they’d have more help around the farm! Most of us don’t have to worry that the chores we require of our children will put them at risk of injury, or wear them out before the school day begins. (Though most American farm kids are still working as hard as they ever did!)
Our modern age means we have fewer and easier tasks to keep our households running smoothly, and many that are suitable for small and helpful hands.
If you find yourself feeling more like a servant than a parent, or if you ask your 10-year-old to put the garbage out and he asks, “Out where?” or if your teenaged daughter can drive to the mall but claims not to know how to make a run to the grocery store, it’s time to recommit to sharing the wealth of benefits that can only be gained by doing chores. Check out the links below for ideas on how to do this.
Not to mention, when the housework is done by everyone and not just you, there’ll be time for the whole family to relax a little!
by Marybeth Hicks of Family Matters